(Before you skip past this post as just another review, I have to tell you that of all the products I've reviewed with Parent Bloggers Network, this is by far one of our favorites. You should at least check out their web page.
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One of the things that I love about teaching is the drive to school. There are very few times I'm in the car without one of the girls, but my drive to school has become my very own. I didn't realize how much I appreciated driving by myself until last January when I started driving to school and was taking Jules along with me. With a baby in the car I would set certain limitations for the kind of music I would listen to. Nothing too crazy. And definitely nothing too loud. In short, the drive to school was nothing spectacular. The highlight of the drive was when I would drop Jules off with a student in the dorms, and then I had approximately 45 seconds to drive from Aagard Hall, up the gym hill, and into the faculty parking lot. In those 45 seconds I would crank the volume on the CD player and play my music. Not children's music. Not talk radio. Not comfortable silence. And then when I was done teaching, I'd pick up Jules and turn down the volume again.
For this fall semester I'm making that drive two times a week, and even though I'm totally digging the teaching time, I also love the 8 minutes I'm in the car, because I get to pick the music. I suppose I could pick the music even when Sydney's in the car, but I usually let her pick. Between listening to the soundtrack for "King Bidgood's in the Bathtub" and selections from "101 Children's Songs to Drive Parents Crazy," I definitely get more than my fair share of children's music. I am not necessarily opposed to it--and it beats listening to whining any day--but I wouldn't exactly pick those songs to listen to if the choice was mine.
So, when Parent Bloggers Network asked me if I wanted to review a children's music CD, I didn't volunteer right away. The thought of having to listen to another rendition of Old MacDonald just didn't sound fun. Heck, even if it was fabulous classical music that would boost Sydney's IQ by 50 points, I still wasn't interested. She's smart enough. Not as smart as me, but you know, she's working on it. But then PBN sent out a second email, and I noticed that the makers of the CD were from Mercer Island, Washington, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I had faith that my fellow Pac Northwesters would come through and bring me something other than Bach.
Well, they definitely brought me something other than Bach. Thanks to That Baby CD and That Baby DVD we have Joni Mitchell, we have Natalie Merchant, and we have Neil Diamond. You don't realize how much it warms my heart to hear Sydney sing Bruce Springsteen. My daughter singing The Boss? Singing in her precious little voice, "Pony Boy, Pony Boy, won't you be my Pony Boy? Giddy-up giddy-up giddy-up, whoa, my Pony Boy." Now, that's priceless.
That Baby CD features acoustic cover versions of mainstream artists--this isn't just a children's CD--sung by Portland artist Stephanie Schneiderman (she sang at Lilith Fair!). Even though the name of the product is kind of tricky to work with (I'm always encouraging Sydney to call things by their proper names, and so it's a bit confusing when we have a CD with a vague article reference), the product itself is certainly not vague or forgettable. I can't tell you how surprised I was about the quality of the music. The producers Rob and Lisi Wolf picked over a dozen songs to remake, and did such an extraordinary job with the music that I literally could listen to the CD all day long. I can't even listen to U2 all day long (shhh...don't tell Jason), but classic rock music, sung by a lovely alto voice? We're all totally addicted to it.
That Baby DVD, which features almost all of the songs from the CD, is beautiful and creative and fun. In short, it's a breath of fresh air when compared to some other music DVDs. The illustrations are well done, and the interaction between the kids and the music has Sydney up and dancing all the time. The website even has a video clip that gives you a taste of what to expect
I asked Sydney what her favorite part is from the DVD, and she said, "The purple tree," (from the video of "Happiness Runs") and "the girl with curls!" There's a little curly-headed blond girl who lip-syncs some of the songs and shakes her curls like it's nobody's business. We're big fans of curly-headed blond girls, naturally. That being said, I think the video does a nice job of making sure that not all the kids who appear in the music videos are blond-haired, blue-eyed kids. I didn't notice any kids with glasses (who we also happen to favor), but that's okay.
I'm already making plans to get the CD/DVD collection for a friend whose wife is expecting a baby because I know he'll love it. And thanks to the PBN campaign, everyone can get 20% off with this code: PBN. Even if you don't have kids, I think the CD is worth having. In fact, my true confession: that drive to school twice a week? I listen to That Baby CD. I've adopted the first song "Happiness Runs" as my personal anthem. Even Jason listens to it just because he likes it. How about that.